In writing about the Battle of Gettysburg, Joshua Chamberlain of Little Round Top fame, observed, "The great difficulty in writing the story of a battle, as well as in making an official report of one, is to GET THE TIMES RIGHT. It makes all the difference in the world whether you represent movements as connected or simultaneous when they are without any such relationship what ever, or simply give them in detached sketches. A little error, or want of acquaintance with the scope and organism (if I may so speak) of particular military movements, will give an entirely wrong view of the case."
James Woods' new book, "Gettysburg, July 2: The Ebb and Flow of Battle" takes up the challenge laid down by the Colonel of the 20th Maine in fully describing the "scope and organism" of this pivotal battle. In 735 pages (including Index, Appendicies, Sources, Bibliography) the ebb and flow of the 2nd Day's Battle of Gettysburg is told as no other previous history has attempted.
Woods' systematic approach starts with the situation as it existed at 12:01 am on that fateful day and, using 164 full page (8.5" X 11") maps with 9 additional detail maps and accompanying text, presents the reader with a chronological progression of the Gettysburg Battle that, at times, slows the action to minute-by-minute increments. Thus the action at the Peach Orchard, the Wheatfield (did it really change hands six times?), along the Emmitsburg road, on Little Round Top, East Cemetery and Culp's Hill is examined and new insights gained.
Though hundreds of books have been writen about the Battle of Gettysburg, many questions were left unanswered, e.g., how many guns did General Ambrose Wright capture and then lose that afternoon? What portion of Burling's brigade made it to the stone wall at the southern end of the Wheatfield? What was the designation of McGilvery's mystery battery? What really happened to Kershaw's left wing attack on the Peach Orchard? The answers to these and many other questions that have perplexed students of the battle for years can be found in the pages of this handsomely bound book.
"Gettysburg, July 2: The Ebb and Flow of Battle" appendicies address the controversial movement of General Longstreet's Divisions (Hoods' and McLaws') to the Confederate right and General Ewell's late-in-the-evening sweeping movement toward Culp's Hill.